Neil Postman’s Technopoly
The follolwing video provides more information on how to write a critique: http://polaris.umuc.edu/ewc/web/write_to_critique.html
The first draft is a rough draft. You will be given the opportunity to revise the draft after receiving comments on the first draft.
Below is a checklist to follow when you think you’re ready to write your rough draft. You are ready to write your rough draft when you have completed the following:
• selected a specific source to critique.
• developed sources to help you critique that source.
• developed notes based upon the sources. These notes may include quotations, paraphrases, and summaries. Remember that you need to cite ideas in the body of your paper if you take them from someone else’s work.
• developed an organizational strategy. Perhaps you’ve put your notes in order, you have developed an outline, or you’ve idea-mapped how the argument’s sequence should go. Basically, you’ve planned a structure for your essay.
The critique will incorporate source material summary into its discussion but will also evaluate that source material. The critique essay should be 650-800 words.
The critique essay asks you to look at a source with a critical eye and discuss its strengths and weaknesses. It will incorporate source material summary into its discussion but will also evaluate that source material.
Please write your critique essay on the following:
Read over Chapters1-5 in Postman’s, Technopoly. Develop a critique of an idea that is presented by Postman in these chapters, using at least two other credible outside sources to help provide support for your ideas. Some possible topics for this essay are given in the next page. Feel free to peruse the topics given to help generate ideas for your essay or use your own ideas for a topic. Either way is fine with me.
In addition, there are several articles in the reserved readings section of the class that you might choose from if you wish. You could also peruse the databases for additional articles. Again, any sources you use as support is fine with me, as long as they are academically sound…(no blogs—and I’m not crazy about Wikipedia).
As stated above, you are required to incorporate at least two sources in addition to the Postman text into your critique essay.
Organizing a Critique
You can find suggestions for strategies to organize the critique in several places:
Read through the Advanced Research Strategies book. Please note the following as well:
1. Behrens and Rosen describe a method for organizing a critique on pages 18-19 in A Sequence for Academic Writing portion of the e-book.
2. Gilhoit provides a chart for organizing a critique on pages 45-46 of A Brief Guide to Writing From Readings.
3. Module 1 of WRTG 391 provides additional advice on organizing the critique.
Samples and further explanations of critique essays:
A sample critique essay can be found on pages 55-58 and I’ll post one or two on another link.
1. A sample critique essay can be found on pages 55-58(Please note that this example does not use APA style of citation.)
2. The article by Maureen A. Mathison, “Writing the Critique, a Text About a Text,” offers an analysis of how students sometimes approach critiques. It is in the reserved readings section of our class.
3. See Andy’s essay for an example of one written using APA mechanics.
Some Ideas for this Essay that you can use, but you don’t have to do so:
The following are some ideas for this essay. Keep in mind that you do not have to choose one of these ideas. You might want to read through these ideas and select one. Or you might read through them and come up with another topic you would like to critique or pick something out from our discussion thread from week 1.
1. In chapter 1, Postman argues that technology gives and takes away. “[T]he benefits and deficits of a new technology are not distributed equally. There are, as it were, winners and losers” (p. 9). With regard to computers, he argues that computers have given some members of society benefits but have also resulted in deficits for other members of society.
What are the strengths and weaknesses of his analysis on these points? Some issues you might consider for this topic include whether Postman has defined his terms clearly, has considered the big picture with regard to computers, has “used and interpreted information fairly” (Behrens & Rosen, p. 68), and has argued his points logically. Even for people in society whose jobs have been eliminated by computers, have they overall been negatively affected by computers? Take, for example, factory workers. Have their lives been affected negatively by computer technology? Or positively? Or both? How about other workers in society? Critique Postman on this claim.
2. In chapter 1, Postman writes that “many people find it [television] a blessing, not least those who have achieved high-paying, gratifying careers in television…” (p. 9). He continues, “On the other hand and in the long run, television may bring a gradual end to the careers of schoolteachers…” (p. 10).
What are the strengths and weaknesses of his analysis here? Some issues you might consider for this topic include whether Postman has defined his terms clearly, has considered the impact of television on education on a large scale, has “used and interpreted information fairly” (Behrens & Rosen, p. 68), and has argued his points logically. Have teachers and students overall benefited more from television? Or have they benefitted in some ways but been harmed in other ways? Overall, critique Postman on this claim.
3. In chapter 2, Postman argues that some societies are tool-using, some are technocracies, and some are technopolies. Do you agree with his classification here and with his analysis of these types of societies?
Some issues you might consider for this topic include whether Postman has defined his terms clearly, has appropriately divided societies into the correct groups, has “used and interpreted information fairly” (Behrens & Rosen, p. 68), and has argued his points logically. Is Postman’s classification here sound? Is his argument about technopolies valid? Critique Postman on this claim about tool-using cultures, technocracies, and technopolies.
4. In chapter 3, Postman makes the case that, in societies that are technocracies, technology and tradition co-exist “in uneasy tension” (p. 48). Do you agree?
Some issues you might consider for this topic include whether Postman has defined his terms clearly, has clearly made the case for this uneasy tension, has “used and interpreted information fairly” (Behrens & Rosen, p. 68), and has argued his points logically. Do all traditions have conflict with technology? And have all forms of technology caused an uneasy tension with traditions? Is Postman’s analysis thorough here? Critique Postman on this claim.
5. In chapter 4, Postman refers to George Bernard Shaw, who mentioned that society today believes “in the authority of science, no matter what” (p. 58). Do you agree?
Some issues you might consider for this topic include whether Postman has defined his terms clearly, has appropriately evaluated the extent that our society trusts science, has “used and interpreted information fairly” (Behrens & Rosen, p. 68), and has argued his points logically. Perhaps you would take the position that our society distrusts science more than it trusts science. Critique Postman on this claim.
6. In chapter 5, Postman says on page 71 that our society deifies technology and that it “seeks it authorization from technology.” Do you agree?
Some issues you might consider for this topic include whether Postman has defined his terms clearly, has considered the different views our society takes on various types of technology, has “used and interpreted information fairly” (Behrens & Rosen, p. 68), and has argued his points logically. What examples in our society support his claim that our society deifies technology? What examples in our society perhaps weaken his claim? Do we really “seek authorization” from technology? If so, how? If not, give examples of how this claim is not true. Perhaps this is true in some areas and not in others. Critique Postman on this claim.
7. In chapter 5, Postman says that information needs to be controlled. “When there is too much information to sustain any theory, information becomes essentially meaningless” (p. 77). Do you agree with his analysis?
Some issues you might consider for this topic include whether Postman has defined his terms clearly, has considered how information is shared in a world dominated by the Internet, has “used and interpreted information fairly” (Behrens & Rosen, p. 68), and has argued his points logically. What examples in our society support his claim that our society has too much information? What examples in our society perhaps weaken his claim? Can society handle more information now because of the Internet? Or has the Internet made things worse? Does controlling information create more problems than the glut of information causes? Explain. Critique Postman on this claim.
8. In chapter 5, Postman analyzes and criticizes bureaucrats and bureaucracies. He also argues that our society has become too specialized. See especially his analysis on pages 86-88. Analyze his argument here.
Some issues you might consider for this topic include whether Postman has defined his terms clearly. You might ask whether he has considered whether specialists and bureaucrats may be necessary as organizations become larger. You might consider whether he has argued his points logically. What examples in our society support his claim that our society is too specialized? What examples in our society perhaps weaken his claim? Critique Postman on this claim
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